… and now Black Kite!

While working in Rutland on Thursday, 12th May, Tom Lowe ‘videoscoped’ this Black Kite after it had drifted over him, high SSE, and crossed the River Welland into Northamptonshire between Collyweston and Easton-on-the-Hill. His videograb composite, below, leaves no doubts on the ID with perfect structure and the 6-fingered primaries

Black Kite, Collyweston/Easton-on-the-Hill, 12th May 2011 (Tom Lowe)

visible in the the top right and bottom left photos. This will be only the third record of Black Kite for Northants, the previous two were of singles near Long Buckby on 2nd May 1995 and at Summer Leys LNR on 7th May 2007, so May appears to be ‘the’ month. There have been a handful of previous reports but these have either been unaccepted or have related to escapes. Well done, Tom!

6 thoughts on “… and now Black Kite!

  1. I do not want to put a downer on this but how can you be so sure from such a blurry photo? I tried to count the primaries and its not that clear. I would say that i have seen plenty of these birds and they are Juvenile red kites. Which with their feathers not quite formed six primaries can also be counted ,the tail looks closer to a black kite,they seem to be a little darker and they are smaller. Either that or for the last eight years or so ive been seeing black kites every where but then i would have thought i would have noticed the pigs flying behind!!!

    1. Dear James,
      Many thanks for commenting on the photographs of the Black Kite. If you blow up, and examine them closely, six primaries are visible and this is diagnostic of Black Kite. Some Black Kites can show only five primaries but not the other way round. There are also structural differences which place this individual firmly in the Black Kite camp. As for juvenile Red Kites, we have a local breeding population which is monitored closely by a local team. The early date of occurrence of the Black Kite precludes the possibility of juvenile Red Kite. According to the members of the monitoring scheme, by this date the oldest juveniles will be no more than about two weeks old; they stay in the nest for 6-7 weeks before fledging and then remain in the vicinity of the nest for a further 2-3 weeks while still being fed by adults. That would put the date for the earliest juvenile on the wing at around the end of June/early July (when we have had reports of Black Kites locally, all records of which have been rejected!). Of course, juveniles remain juveniles into the following year although structurally they should more closely resemble adults. I showed the published photos to Dick Forsman, who commented: “It is a perfect Black Kite … no doubt whatsoever”.
      Mike Alibone

  2. Thank you for your reply and you may be an expert but i have seen and there are pictures of juvenile red kites where their feathers are not properly formed and they apear to have six primary feathers as the last wing feather is a bit ammis from the rest . Their tails feathers dont appear to form to the full adult shape either. I have also noted they tend to be darker and to be honest Red kites seem to vary vastly in their colour. Im not saying this is not a black Kite(but its not likely) but that from such a blurry unclear set of images i dont see how you can be so sure.
    I have Red Kites flying over my house daily and i have been watching them sine around 2001. and as you say Juveniles go on ito the next year. Im no expert but i know what i see and a young red kite is not a million miles away from looking like a black kite.

  3. Dear Mike,
    My wife and I stopped off at The Barn Cafe near Weedon in Northhants yesterday (5 March 22) and we definitely saw a Black Kite flying on the thermals in the neighbouring field, it was still there about an hour later after we’d had our tea and scones, about 4.20pm. The tail was shorter than the Red Kite and more square end, not forked. We also spotted another one about 2 or 3 miles further down the road as we went on our journey, unfortunately we didn’t get any photos but they are definitely about!

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